LOUISVILLE, Ky., — Consumers are crazy for nugget ice, the soft, chewable ice especially favored in the South and associated with restaurant chains and convenience stores, as evidenced by the hugely popular Indiegogo campaign for the Opal™ nugget ice maker from GE’s FirstBuild™.
The campaign, which went live on July 28 through Indiegogo, has surpassed its funding goal of $150,000 and crossed the $1.25 million threshold this weekend.
Opal is an affordable countertop nugget ice maker designed by the FirstBuild community and priced well below other currently available nugget ice makers. (See July 23, 2015 story) Early bird pricing began around $399 or less, with future retail pricing expected at $499. The ice maker will be shipped to Indiegogo backers in mid-2016.
The Opal ranks ninth in Indiegogo’s top 10 list of campaigns that have raised the most funds in 24 hours, and the 13th fastest to reach the half million dollar mark.
“The benefits of launching a new product like Opal using the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform allows us immediate feedback on market acceptance,” said Natarajan Venkatakrishnan, director of FirstBuild. “Our product has certainly been of interest to consumers and one of the most successful launches in Indiegogo history.”
FirstBuild is a new model of manufacturing that challenges makers around the world to ideate and help design innovations in home appliances. Opal is an idea that was generated through a challenge set forth in March by FirstBuild. The FirstBuild community of makers was asked to design a residential ice maker that would appeal to nugget ice enthusiasts. The design of Opal is a result of ideas generated by the maker community and prototyped by FirstBuild engineers.
The Opal nugget ice maker works by packing together small ice crystals, creating nuggets of soft yet crunchy ice. Nugget ice chills beverages faster than conventional ice cubes. The air pockets in each nugget also absorb the flavor of the drink while cooling, leaving a chewable and tasty refreshment for those who enjoy snacking on ice after they have finished their drink.
Opal is a compact countertop design that plugs into any electrical outlet and holds 3 pounds of ice, about as much as a typical refrigerator. Opal produces its first nuggets in just 15 minutes, and can produce 1 pound of ice per hour. The elegant stainless steel unit includes a crystal-clear, removable ice bin that slides out and tilts forward for easy access to the ice.
GE’s FirstBuild is a global co-creation community that harnesses the brainpower of the maker movement to change the way major home appliances are conceived, designed and manufactured. A physical state-of-the-art microfactory on the University of Louisville campus and online forum, FirstBuild speeds products from mind to market and enables customization through small batch production, without the costs and risks of traditional mass manufacturing. For more information about how to get involved, visit FirstBuild.com.